Duke Energy working to find best way to remove leftover coal ash - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

Duke Energy working to find best way to remove leftover coal ash

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Within the next few weeks, decommissioning of the coal facility at H.F. Lee will be complete. But the problem at many ash facilities is finding the best way to remove the coal ash itself.

At Lee, there are 4.9 million tons of coal ash, something that would take roughly ten years to remove completely.

Jeff Brooks says Duke Energy is in the middle of an engineering study to determine the best way to permanently close the ash basins at the site.

"As we look at each basin, each basin has its own story,” explained Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy. “We'll have to determine what the best closure option is for that basin, whether it be to excavate, whether it could be left in place with the right closure plan or even whether there are beneficial options that could be used for that material.”

At an open forum, Duke Energy officials met with worried community members about the plan to remove coal ash at the facility.

"The reason I'm concerned is because we fish in that river, we swim in that river, we go boating in the river," said Mindy Robinson, one of the people who attended the forum. "A lot of people who use well water depend on that river."

She said she's worried Duke Energy may end up leaving the coal ash at the facility.

"To me, that's just a band aid over a huge gaping wound," she said.

Brooks says that decision won't be made until the engineering study is complete later this year. But he does warn what works at one facility, won't work at another.

"What may not be the best plan is an immediate one size fits all reaction," he said. "We want to make sure we're deliberate and that we're being environmentally sensitive in the way we go about this."

Some think Duke Energy is taking too much time determining a course of action.

"We know this isn't going to happen overnight. But we know what the issues are, there's no need for years of study. We know how to remove the pollution," said Matthew Starr with the Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation.

To learn more about Duke Energy's coal ash plan, click here.
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